Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

The Rogue Rock Writer, Half in the Bag, Submersed in the Scene

Archive for the ‘Through Sound and Time’ Category

Through Sound and Time: 2005

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(This year I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries as to what happened to Through Sound and Time. If you’re not hip to this section of the blog, it’s a personal reflection of what I was listening to and reading at the time. I started in 1991 with my first CD purchase and I’m upto 2005, I’ve tried to write this post several times but I always felt nauseous as I started. Anyhow, it’s important I do this so we can move on and eventually get to the good stuff … Enjoy?)

Here I am on the final leg of my retrospective journey of literature and music. It’s been a while since I did a Through Sound and Time post. I guess one of the reasons is because I’m scared. Scared? What could that mean? Scared of what? The truth is 2005 and 2006 were a sort of dark age for me musically socially and frankly I didn’t read much. It’s hard to think about that time. I guess I sort of lost the faith for a bit. I focused on other things. So I figured that I’d tackle the next couple of year the way George Lucas handled Star Wars episodes 4 – 6. or as I like to think of them: The Fall of Anakin Skywalker. Here goes…

2005 new years I remember thinking to myself that this was the same year that the Transformers Movie (1985), the Cartoon not the Michael Bay shit storm, happened. Slightly disappointed that I had neither a sentient car or a gun that became a giant robot, I began to listen to a lot of bad emo music. Bands like Brand New, Funeral, Atreyu y’know that sort of stuff. The kind of music that’s about such clever topics as “my shitty ex” or “those friends of mine that aren’t friends” or (my personal favorite) “my vampire girlfriend”. Yea it wasn’t being being me during this era.

In March I had a girlfriend … Really my first relationship. Her name was Lisa she was a really nice girl. My job at rafferty’s was boring the fuck outta me and I finally moved back in with some friends in New Brunswick. Life at the old man’s was sorta too slow for me. So I spent the next few months trying to figure a way outta this town. Between the constant boozing and the existential stasis, I was pretty sick of NB. Many of my friends had moved and I was hungry for a change.

May 28th 2005 (remember this date) I broke up with my G/f and got the fuck outta Dodge. Moved back to my dad’s to regroup. A month later, bought a White ’88 cadillac for $200, then spent the summer on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

A man alone on the road for the first time, since my grandfather passed away, it was nice to just have some time to myself. I knew I was gonna save some money living with my cousin Angela in the South. It was just trying to figure out what to do with that money once I left.

That was a great Summer. It was a stupid summer but it was good for me. I got a job waiting tables at Out Back Steakhouse, and helping a family friend’s Restaurant as a busboy dish washer for in between. Outback never opened til 4pm so that gave me the daytime to spend alone on the beach. Cousin Angela was pretty busy so I spent a lot of the summer by myself or hanging out with Aunt Pam or Cousin Jon Tyler. I’m the eldest Clark in my generation, Angela and JT were Pam’s kids (my dad’s sister) so they were Longs. Both about ten years older than me, JT got me into Punk Rock when I was younger. He used to send me his old punk clothes. Anyhow I spent my days on the beach reading the Wheel of Time. Talk about epic 10 books long this series makes the lord of the rings look like level 1. Rich fantasy world, incredible character development, and tons of political intrigue.

In June I realized my Magic: The Gathering ban had been lifted. I spent a few bucks playing the online version of the game. By the end of the month I wasn’t really feeling it. In August I had saved enough money for an entire semester of school, so I decided that was gonna be my focus. Back to Camden and finish school in the next year.

Halloween I was Shaun of the Dead… It was a little early though not everyone got it. In late October I started dating a girl. I had a job at Applebee’s then Don Pablo’s and ended the year back at Ritz Camera. Since I was back in South Jersey I reconnected with many of my friends from the comic shop. I spent new years making out with my girlfriend drunk on a friend’s couch. It was a pretty standard New Years.

(Well that wasn’t so bad I guess, though ill say it was certainly a transition year. I stepped down a notch and focused on school the year ended well. I’m glad it’s over though aside from the Summer it was a pretty slow year.)

Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

Written by rockertycoon

April 8, 2012 at 9:25 am

Through Sound & Time: 2004

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New Years Day started in a weird manner. I woke up in that state of clarity that exists between drunk and hungover. During this time I had made a pact with my first “girlfriend” to come up to Jersey City and meet me for the day and see what I’m upto. Melissa Ritler, met me later on that day. We took a sojourn to Old Man Rafferty’s and had lunch. New year’s day is sort of a bad day for service industry workers I wanted to go in and see my co-workers and join them in solidarity.

After Lunch I have no idea how we passed the time until we made it to the bar. there’s not much more story to tell here aside from drinks with friends, smiles and a bar fight. That’s right at the bar closed there was a bar fight. I wasn’t involved but some alpha male gene inside of me bade me to enter the fray. The offending party was rendered helpless at I put him into a full nelson in a feet of dexterity and brashness that I had never quite known. I was removed from the fight mere seconds later as the barkeep broke it up and told me thank you but not to put my meager frame in danger again. It was a fun night.

So I started reading The Invisibles that year. I highly recommend. Nothing twists the mind like Grant Morrisson. But the really great thing about this book is that it turned me on to the Kinks. At the start of one of the trades, the leader of the team is running through a forest singing “Fa fa fa fa, fa fa fa fa” Later that day I downloaded David Watts. The Kinks quickly became a new fascination. I started listening to them a lot.

After the prior year’s debacle with school I took another year off, but decided to really learn a technique for photo, I spent a while relearning my craft. Reading studio photography books and looking at fashion magazines (I had a subscription to Details and GQ). The only way i can even begin to equate relearning a style of photography is to tell you to stop writing a particular way. By that I mean handwriting. Then relearn to write your ABCs. Do it with some form of class. (In 2001, after my arm healed, I actually did just that. I was sick of my handwriting looking like a bunch of squiggly lines. i learned to letter in a comic book style.) Needless to say it’s a form of zen discipline all in itself.

Emo music took off that year. Bands like Taking Back Sunday, Thrice, and Funeral for a friend put out new albums. Overall it was a good year for music not generally heard on the radio. I remember being at Olde Queens tavern and hearing a Decade under the Influence. I was simultaneously happy and disappointed that underground music had permeated the collective unconscious. I used to tell kids in my high school to mark my words punk rock would come back, like I was some kind of false prophet. When it finally took over I was too old, too opinionated and already moving on with my tastes. Yes, Rush and The Rolling Stones had took my interest. I would cringe when i mentioned classic rock and some blasphemer would bring up Springsteen, or try to talk to me about Grateful Dead.

There wasn’t much to 2004, I worked a lot, I drank a lot and I saved up to get my driver’s license back after the accident 2 years earlier. I did start to keep a journal that I filled with 100 word stories (That journal was lost in a flood), But it kept me writing and helped me learn to think in terms of story telling. there’s not much else I remember from this year, I’d consider it a dark age for a 24 year old Zac Clark

Written by rockertycoon

December 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Through Sound and Time: 2003

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I gotta be honest, 2003 was a haze of work and drink.  I was living in this house of a fraternity that was totally made up and I was drinking every night after work.  Work took a lot of my time.  Mostly because they fed me every shift.  I would pick up just to make sure I ate that day.  Being a busboy was a brand new thing for me.  I took the job only a few days after the new year.  When my roommates left for winter break I stayed in New Brunswick and worked.  Each night I came home to a cold house with no hot water.  (I bet you think I’m pulling one of those “how shitty my life was stories”, I’m definitely not.  When my roommates left the oil ran out.   Paul stayed and I stayed.  We could barely muster up rent not to mention money to eat, oil was just something that we knew would have to wait until the rest of the roommates moved back in.  Broken windows letting in the cold and no hot water for showers damned near killed us.  But we bore down those frozen weeks and huddled around a lone space heater for warmth, not to mention drank a lot of Jim Beam to stop from feeling the cold.  January was a pretty scary month.

2003 might have started off slow, but I was meeting a lot of people.  I worked in a huge restaurant, there were something like 50 or 60 people working with me.  I was never what you’d call a hard worker, but as I was being kept warm and fed as well as being paid I decided to make the very best of the situation and keep my chin up and do some “honest” work.  I came home exhausted, but I was fast making friends.  The college experience that I was so afraid I was missing out on was starting blossom.  If you’re under the age of 21 and you want to be a rockstar, and maybe learn a little about yourself I put this to you:  Forget what ever stigma you have about not working in the food industry.  The money is good (better than retail) the connections you can make hold up, and if you work in the service of others you’ll learn a lot about yourself.  That said, I was 22 when I started bussing tables.

By April I had been promoted to a waiter.  I was doing much better and the weather was warming up.  I had resolved to keep my mouth shut and work hard those first months.  In doing that some of that false altruism actually rubbed off on me.  I ingrained diligence into myself.  (As gramma used to say after she left the John, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right!” No one went into the bathroom for at least 45mins as a result of that statement).  But honest hard work became my mantra, I was promoted several times and given raises simply for being the goto guy.  If you needed a favor or an extra hand, Zac Clark was the guy.  I like to think I still operate on that level.

My friend Dan Chung turned me onto Motion City Soundtrack.  I started going to more concerts.  I can’t even remember how many weekends were spent bumming rides to Birch Hill.  I settled into a mosh pit style that is still today referred to by New Jersey Punks as “Crazy Legs”.

Summer came and the beach was a regular occurrence.  I moved in with co-workers. Tom, Cindy and I lived in a railroad apartment right on Easton Ave.  I that years warped tour was a blur it was on the beach in Asbury I think.

I spent that summer rereading Kevin Mitnick’s Art of Deception.  I picked up the rest of Icewind Dale and Read the Drow’s Legacy too by R.A. Salvatore.  His prose style combined with Lovecraft and Gaiman have influenced my fiction to it’s very core.  Also I read Get in the Van:  The First Four Years of Henry Rollins in Black Flag.  Musically I was finding out about music that I had only heard in passing.  Cock Sparer, Adolescents, Smiths, The Damned, a lot of 70’s era punk.  And let me not forget local bands like Dibs and Shade were regularly playing on my PC.

By mid summer I had my first drunken restaurant hook-up (that place was like a roman bathhouse of sexual harassment, I’m not sure how It took this long looking back.  I guess I was much more reserved back then.)   I had formed friendships with people that would later mold me into the cat I am today these people would make reoccurring appearances in my life years to come:

Kate Connolly:  She drove me to follow my dream of becoming a photographer.  At the time I was a studio trained student.  I was teaching her about lighting and how you pose and get the look you wanted from a subject.  Today she’s still teaching me things, mostly humility, when I look at her body of work.

Charlie Galvano:  Executive Chef of Old Man Rafferty’s.  LvL 90 Jedi and master of Rage.  If you’ve never seen me buckle under intense pressure, this is the guy to thank.  Every Sunday Night I expo’d that kitchen.  An 80 Table restaurant of hungover and largely stupid waiters (Not all of you but a lot of you were a special kind of pain in my ass).  It was my first taste of responsibility for everyone around me.  Mistakes were made and made often.  Many time Charlie would bark from one side of the kitchen to “SOUND OFF LIKE YOU GOT  A PAIR” it was one of those jobs that tests your ability to think fast organize your next thoughts and deal with whatever else was going on.  I fucked up a lot.  I got yelled at, I got shit on by the servers, managers and the cooks.  But I never buckled.  And after most shifts I’d go to the bar.  Charlie would be in a little after, order up a couple of shots and tell me I did a good job today.  A bold faced lie, I knew it, but it made me feel good, and it made me want to try harder.  Eventually I got good at it, I learned to ignore the yammering of the waiters asking for their food and the managers asking how long til whatever comes out, I fell into a rhythm, and my rage was quelled.  Today, if you’ve ever seen me at a show or behind a bar, I’m constantly using what I learned there.  Suppressing, no killing that anger, was one of the most Zen things I’ve learned in my time.  Charlie has most likely saved me from several black eyes and a couple nights in jail.

Dan Chung:  Solid friendships stand the test of time.  Dan is one of those cats that has kept up with me on a semi regular basis even after the both of us moved on from New Brunswick.  And everytime we meet up to hang there’s none of that pissing contest bullshit that comes from time spent away from a friend.  It’s all about the here and now.  Every year he hosts a canoe trip in Kittatinny.  He’s a teacher these days.  He’s been a constant source of perspective, whenever I’m setting out on something new or I need some frame of reference he’s been right there with solid advice and a reminder that I’m, at my base, a genuinely good person.  It’s hard to find people that have that kind of time for old friends these days.  It’s refreshing in fact. (Dan was with me back at the start of Rockertycoon when I saw Cryptkeeper Five)

Bill Schriver: I was just becoming a waiter one summer night after hours when I was hangin out with this guy for the first time.  “You’ll be bartending soon, I’m sure of it.”  The thought had never ever crossed my mind yet.  But he was right.  ^ months later I was a bartender (not an easy task in a restaurant where everyone was looking for that promotion).  Bill and I became fast friends, we worked together twice a week and he taught me the ins and out of bartending.  He was a solid judge of character and avid about steering clear of the slippery slope of restaurant drug use.  We used to work on Saturday nights… go out get drunk and then wake up on Sunday and head to Best Buy.  Each time the idea was to spend just less than the other guy.  Bill lost that game a lot.  But I say all that to say this:  He taught me a craft that has allowed me to keep a stable rein on my social life as well as my professional career.  Whenever I’m in a slump creatively I know that I can pick up a job slinging drinks.

Derek Hayes:  How can I mention any of these people without mentioning one of the most solid cats I’ve had the privilege to know.  Derek was my food runner trainer.  He took pride in his work at the restaurant.  And when I got promoted to wait staff, he was the first to request that he personally train me.   We hung out pretty much everyday or i should say every night.  Derek was a workhorse, and though he was often trouble by home life or women, it was hard to find him without a smile on his face.  I remember several times we’d be sitting at the bar laughing at ourselves as we constantly failed with women.  You couldn’t help but forget your problem hanging out with him.  Derek, Tom (My Roommate) and I were like Gimili, Aragorn and Legalos (respectively).  You couldn’t find a more loyal, lovable loser.  I remember one night we both walked into work with black eyes when asked what happened, we point to each other in unison and said, “He got in a fight, and I had to break it up.”  We spent the next couple of shifts out of the sight of customers in the kitchen.  I still contest that he started the fight.  Derek taught me simply that loyalty is the only thing that matters in friendship.  We never let women get between us or money and several times when either one of us was down and out the other was there to a chin up.  I wish he could read this.  Derek passed in 2006, he was the first of us to go.  And everyone felt it like a shockwave.  I’ll touch on that in posts to come.

Moving on though,  summer gave way to Fall and I signed up for school and dropped out.  It’s the only time I’ve ever given up on education in my adult life.  I only include that because the shame itself drove me to start taking classes at Camden again.  I spent the holidays amongst friends, and I started working on free writing fiction.  But I didn’t yet feel as though I’d seen enough, I certainly didn’t have my voice yet.

New Years barely registers.  I think I was at Jenn Walsh’s (later to become Jen Galvano) house.  No wait I remember.  I was at Knight Club.  I drank my fill and I think both Cindy and I pecked on New Years.  (We still regret this to this day.) It was like kissing a sister.

2004 started with an interesting character from my past.

Written by rockertycoon

August 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Through Sound And Time: 2002

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I have, for much of my life, believed in the soul power of music and how it speaks to a person and how sharing those feelings, and that music, can be one of the best feelings in the world.  I have not always been so good at getting other people to understand that listening to my music was a good idea.  There was a time when I struggled against the powers of pop to bring people something they could truly enjoy.  One such time was New Years 2002.

Paul (my aforementioned best friend and comrade in the pits) had decided that after last year’s debacle we would play it cool with local friends back in south Jersey at Brian Adamonis’ girlfriend’s sisters’ house.  This was an era where I was reveling in the fact that a person could be a person without having to have a person.  Whereas most if not all of my friends were dating or in one friend’s situation “not dating” people in relationships.  My friend’s girlfriends had become the bane of my existence.  I had become the dreaded fun friend.  The loud-mouthed asshole who said whatever was on his mind.  If you think I’m bad these days, you should have seen me in my prime.
Either way, the night was full of other people drinking and hooking up with their girlfriends while I was left to control the music situation.  Kazaa was used heavily to procure something worth dealing with in my misery.  And as eventful as the last new years had been this one was a flop.  I definitely wish I went upto New Brunswick, instead I was switching turns playing music with Christine Choplin, who had a thing for Toad the Wet Sprocket, a band I still fervently disbelieve anyone can call their all-time favourite band.  And yet there was Christine, defying the laws of space, time, rock and roll and Natural Selection in one devastating blow.  HA! I still have a little bit of that asshole left after all.
Right, so county college swept on and I stepped up to the plate with 4 classes.  Three Photo and another English lit class.  I learned Photoshop and built a dark room inside my house.  Come spring time I had decided I was moving to Rutgers and I was going to transfer to Mason Gross for Photography.  It was a big step in the right direction.
This was the year I would drive around listening to Green Day’s Dookie album.  I know that I was about ten years off on this one but I had picked it up and I couldn’t put it down.  New Found Glory‘s self titled Album got a lot of playtime.  The Ataris were a huge staple of my driving music.  Iron Maiden had found it’s way into my music collection.  My friend Dave DeJesus and I were taking trips up to NB a bunch so we had time to bounce music off each other.  He showed me bands like Zao and Catch 22.
When I moved in June, Paul and I started working in the Freehold mall at a Ritz camera.  We would spend our days on the beach and our weekends peddling cameras.  After a few weeks I got my current roommate, Kevin,  and another friend of ours, Gerry, a job losing people’s film.  One of the great things about most of the jobs I’ve had is that there has always been room for friends.  Kev, Gerry, Paul and I would turn up the charm and sell things to people that they didn’t need or want, half the time Paul was drunk while he was printing film.  We spent a lot of time goofing off and taking pictures of the store.  Gerry had a penchant for Dashboard Confessional so that became a thing for us.
I spent a lot of time reading because we didn’t have any cable television that summer.  H.P. Lovercraft, Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors, Legend of the Five Rings.
That summer we played a lot of beer pong, well I played with Mountain Dew.  Now don’t judge us we all did this in college.  We thumped our chests and butted heads and gasp listened to Good Charlotte.  I wish I could say I did it ironically or that I didn’t enjoy it a little bit.  But they were good times and this happened to be the soundtrack to this summer.  I’m sure you have some music that you wish you didn’t own.  I’m talking to you, the guy who bought the Dog’s Eye View album.  So hold your stones lest I pull out some holier than thou Jesus stuff, healing the meek and inheriting the earth turning water into fish and bread into wine.
The year wore on and we start hosting shows in our basement.  Too many bands to mention them all but off the top of my head we had, Puck on Six, Tokyo Rose, My Chemical Romance, Armour for Sleep, Paulson… so many acts that went on to some amount of fame.  This is when I started laying the ground work for Rocker Tycoon.  Paul and I started writing a Zine called the Alternative.  I covered the bands and Paul worked on the events.  Zines were the thing to do back in 2002 you weren’t anyone if you didn’t have a Geocities page and fax /copy/ printer.  This also started my journey into the realm of local music.  I did shoots with bands like Shade and even shot a few bands from other countries that were staying in town.  Music journalism was undergoing a huge upheavel with Digital SLRs taking over the photo market and I was still shooting with my Nikon F100 film camera and transferring the stills to CD via film scanner.  It was archaic and an unsound method of creating a news source.  There was so much over-head and waste we weren’t even selling these things, just handing them out at shows and interviewing bands.
December came and I remember that Paul and I had run out of oil to heat the house and without the $400 needed to fill the tank we just had to figure out ways of staying warm.  I worked in the mall as often as I could.  Then the unthinkable happened.  It was December 14th I was driving to work and someone hit me dead in the side in their car.  After the smoke cleared and everything legal was settled I lost my car to damage and my License for a year.  I was driving without insurance.  Freehold court threw the book at me.  Things began to take a harsh spiral and my dad even asked me if I was gonna have to move back.  I couldn’t do it.  Not after all the hard work I’d put in and come spring semester I was applying for Mason Gross.  I had to muscle it out and figure out a new way to live.  I paid my rent with my next paycheck and started looking for a job in town.  During this soul crushing blow my friends most of these people I’d only recently met really kicked my ass into gear.  I was sinking into a depression and they were determined not to let me drown.
New years this year was a big turn around for me.  I was still alive after two weeks of not working and I hadn’t burrowed any money from anyone.  Rent was paid and About 9 days prior I had started drinking.  This was a big deal to a lot of my friends. Many people were worried that this was going to become a serious problem because of the time I started.  I was 22 and just didn’t have any reason not to drink anymore.  I didn’t drive, so I couldn’t protect my friends by staying sober and getting them home.  It was high time I took a break from being the responsible sober kid at the party.  I remember little from that New Years aside from just running around hanging out with friends and singing along to A LOT of Alkaline Trio.  2002 you were a bum of a year, I miss the hell out of you.

Written by rockertycoon

February 15, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Through Sound and Time 2001

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After what later became known as the “Fight of The Century”. Paul went back to school and I went back to the comic shoppe life.  My dad gave me a life changing ultimatum early in the year.  I had a choice out of three.  I could A) Move out B) Pay rent or C) I could go to school.  Seeing that my best bet financially would be to pay for a couple of classes at the local county college, I opted for that.  I took two classes: English 101 and Photo 101.  I wasn’t exactly excited about continuing my education, especially after my high school experience.  Frankly. I was just starting to understand that it was ok to be different and I wasn’t actually looking forward to having a bunch of classmates give me shit about not listening to their music, or dressing like them.

Boy, did I have college pegged all wrong!  So I excelled in my English class partly because I’d made a point to ace both of these classes so my pop wouldn’t kick me out and partly I think that Camden County has a bit of a lowered expectation for what is considered proper English.  I struggled with the Photo Class for the first half of the semester.  Then I hit stride and began to understand light and printing.  I can’t lie though I had some help.  My dad had taken the class as well, so I was extra motivated to do the work.  There was no option to sleep in and miss class either.

So I had found a new calling.  Something that I actually liked to do aside from write that could actually become a career.  If only I’d have known the amount of work involved in becoming a photographer.  I wonder would I actually be one now.  Thankfully it seemed an easy way to make money and I started on my path toward the visual arts.

As the year moved forward I began to make friends around the college, Mostly liberal arts majors and photo students in the photo lab.  And there were girls of course.  It was easily the first time in my life where girls were actually treating me like a human being and I think a lot of that had to do with my decision to just sit back not be annoying as all hell and observe.  I made an effort to be myself but to not be overtly weird.

It was late March when I finally started hanging out with people that I went to school with.  I was at a Dropkick Murphys show hitting the pit with a confidence I had picked up in the last few shows due to an entourage of friends and reoccurring acquaintances who had dubbed me “Crazy Legs” because of my erratic mosh pit dancing style.  I was a local celebrity for the first time in my life, and I was loving it.  On a trip to the men’s room at Philadelphia’s illustrious Electric Factory I ran full on into Dena Merlino, the lab monitor at my college.  I mean I actually ran into her.  She recovered and I told her I’d be right back.  I was thirsty and in those days I wasn’t drinking beer at shows and I wasn’t going to pay $3 for bottled water when Philly tab would do just fine.  I got back and we both laughed about the accident and we exchanged phone numbers to hang out later.  I couldn’t talk for long as my crowd was in action and dancing in the pit.

Dena Merlino was a raven haired goddess to me.  She had that Betty Page haircut and she was into the same kind of music I dug, well read and she took an interest in me so that was a plus too.  She was a little older (a year) and I was still way too shy to deal with girls on anything more than meet-ups and hangouts.  She asked me what I was going to do for my birthday this year (because I was turning 21) the next week in class.  I wasn’t sure I was doing anything.  I’d spent the last to years just sitting around the house doing pretty much nothing, Birthdays hadn’t been a big deal for me then.  They were more of a time to reflect where I’d wonder about the future and if I’d do anything with myself, depressing stuff really.  I told her I had no idea what to do.  I didn’t drink so going to a bar was out.  She told me she’d see what bands were playing.

The next week she told me she’d gotten tickets to see bands at the Trocadero.  I was way too excited to even care who I saw.  The weeks past and I’d come to the lab to hang out .  Dena would check out my stuff and give me hints on how to create different effects and we bullshit about music.  We even found out we had a mutual friend, Pete Hagan, who had just started working with me in the comic shop.  Pete instantly grew on my like a foot fungus.  I’d hang out at his place til the late hours of the morning, we’d watch movies like the Warriors and he’d lend me music from his collection.  The Smiths, Morrissey and he even got me into Metallica a bit.  The Old Metallica like Ride the Lightning and such, But I digress.

So the day of May 16, 2001 came to pass.  Dena met me at my (dad’s) place we drove to Philly to see the Kottonmouth Kings.  Never heard of them, nor had she, we just figured we’d see what they were about.  Brian McManus came along as well.  We listened to a Tribute to the Misfits comp on the way there.  I wasn’t intimately familiar with the misfits just then, but I do remember that much.  So we got in early and muscled through the first band that was like some kind of rap/rock clown metal band whose message was that it’s not fair that the government takes away your money from your minimum wage paychecks.  Mindless droning and selfish spoiled suburban kids bitching about how different they were and how much more money they should be making.  We laughed at them.  And I hoped that this next band wouldn’t be so bad.  Needless to say that if you know about the sort of music I’m into, these were horrible bands in anyone’s opinion.  I still mark this down as one of the worst concerts I’ve ever been to.  The company was great though.  We ended the night at Runnemede’s Philly Diner.  Nothing ever blossomed with Dena though from time to time we catch up and still laugh about that show.

Summer of 2001 hit and I had deeply gotten involved with the skating scene in my home town.  I was using the tennis court behind the Shoprite as my skate ramp.  My friends and I would meet there and try to do tricks.  We’d listen to Guttermouth and Suicide Machines and Goldfinger.  It’s funny that we thought this made us punk.  Sure we were punk, but I think it had absolutely nothing to do with the amount of music and skating we did.

Pete Hagan had recently procured a job at Mister Softee for the summer.  He got me a job there too. For the first time in my life I was really making enough money to have fun with.  It was a grueling job, though.  I’d spend all day riding around and serving ice cream in Trenton.  It was just me to my thoughts all day.  There was no one to talk to and all I had was my music.  Lucky for me my boss was a big music lover and had installed a sound system into the truck.  Each day I’d drive up Rt1 and go to CD World to find my CD of the day.  This habit thoroughly extended my music collection.  I bought all the Clash albums, Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True, The Deviates, Death By Stereo, Ten Foot Pole, Alkaline Trio Albums.  In short I was all over the place musically and I was rocking out.  One of the Albums I’ll never forget Lou Reed’s Growing Up in Public is indelibly scraped into my mind during that time because My boss played it during my training period.  Softee was how I learned not to fear highways, how I learned to drive in a city and learned not to worry about being afraid of the projects.  I must have listened to Rancid’s Black Album everyday up 295.  Sadly, My time with Softee ended on a down note as I got robbed and then the next day I broke my arm.  That was the end of June… I had a ticket to see Green Day and the Living End that day.  In the Hospital I started reading a lot of trade paperback.  Kurt Busiek’s Astro City was a feature of the 3 day stay in the hospital.   I healed in a few months and even made it to Warped Tour 2001 at the end of July.

August was a shitty month for me.   The girl I was dating just stopped answering my calls and I got fired from the Comic Shoppe.  It was a huge blow for me.  I wasn’t really sure I’d be able to make it doing anything but selling comics to people and playing CCG’s.  Thankfully, it was likely the best thing my friends did for me.  There was still a large amount of strife going on because I had been caught cheating by the DCI a year prior and I needed to move on and start making some kind of life for myself.  At the end of the month when school had started I was already working at a photo lab in the Echelon Mall and life got back to being stable.

Photo 2 and English 201 were a snap and I had started to develop a dark style to my photography, and a mantra that I still hold to today.  Well, perhaps not a mantra but a dark humour to who I am.  A Sick Cry For Help, one of the “alternative” students in my class had said that about my work.  Most of my photos for photo 2 were self portraits, in a b movie still fashion.  Taking the cue from greats like Hitchcock and Lovecraft I went for a more morbid look to my art.  I used chocolate syrup as fake blood and came up with these scenes where it looked like I was either the killer or the victim.   I wasn’t hurting on the inside or feeling dark thoughts I was just exploring what kind of reactions I could get from my classmates.  One woman remarked that it was a Sick Cry for Help.  I laughed, that sounded like a great idea for a book.

I started going upto Rutgers a lot more to hang out that year.  Almost every single weekend in fact.  Paul was living in the quads on Bush campus, and I was using the time away from work and home to practice my photography.  I started hanging out at parties.  This was the first time I really went out of my way to be overtly social.  I’d drive my friends across campus and we’d hang out and scam on girls then I’d drive everyone back and we’d repeat the process the very next night.  I remember Halloween in particular being an overwhelmingly good time, but damned if I can remember what I was that year.  I was meeting people of all different cultures and beginning to understand what I was missing for not going away to college.  I decided that I needed to get out and make it happen.  The rest of the year was a blur but I was reading Camus and started on Finnegan’s Wake (which to this day I haven’t finished).  I do remember that I was drinking a lot of Jolt Cola then.  I had met my current roommate and had started writing these 100 word stories and haikus into a book.  It was a formative year and a lot happened that changed how I looked at the world I made connections that to this day still affect me 9 years later.  Things were rapidly getting interesting.

Written by rockertycoon

January 21, 2010 at 10:15 am

Through Sound and Time: New Years 2000/2001

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Note: This story doesn’t have as much to do with music as it does with what it was like growing up in South Jersey circa 2001. It’s a tale of a girl, a Camero and some friends. There are no admitted heroes here, just a couple of people that were being young and having a good time while searching for a good time. Read on my friends! I hope you enjoy! If this does well I may include more stories like this in the future.

I think her name was Candace. She was a few years younger than me and perhaps about as intellectual as grated cheese. But she was skinny and blonde and at 20 what more could I ask for. I mean just the fact that she paid attention to me was pretty much a miracle. I suppose I could blame the arrested development of my high school experience. I was sort of a pariah with the ladies. My MO was simple; if a girl so much as said “Hi” to me it was a good day. If she was nice to me on the regular then I’d conspire to ask her out, which I rarely did. So after following a girl around for a few months she’d get sick of my loser ass, or she’d gotten over the guilt of cheating on the test and decided it was time to tell me to back the fuck off. This had a profound effect on me. I developed neuroses that haunt me to this day. But as I said Candace didn’t want to hang out with me so she could tap my brain for info or so I’d put a picture of her in the yearbook or any of that petty bullshit. Nope, I was a man with a car, and Candace needed a ride! Queue the Four Tops! (It’s just the same old song.)

Anyhow, that New Years I decided I was gonna cut lose! Candace had a party to go to. I invited my best friend Paul along, and we first set off to pick up my manager Bryan and go to the Behind the Sun New Years party. Behind the Sun was a South Jersey Metal Band. The lead singer, Alex Rivera, was a friend of my comic shoppe and a damned good Warhammer figure painter. So Candace, Bryan, Paul and I set out for the fabled White Horse Pike. First, I picked up Paul whom I hadn’t seen much since he went to college (unless there was a ska show up north). He asked me about this chick we were picking up and I told him she was some hot blonde from the mall. Paul seemed skeptical, but we rocked out as we drove even farther south down rt 45 pick up Candace.

When we got to her house, she came rushing out Paul got into the back with a little bit of griping. As she entered my 87 Black Camero with Red interior and a moon roof, she proclaimed, “You’re car is a mess.” I believe this was the instant that Paul decided he hated her. If my memory serves I received Rancid’s Let’s Go for Christmas and was rockin that or Short Music for Short People. Well then she tried to change the station to Q102 the local pop rap station. So then we roll off. About ten miles down the road she asks us, “Do either one of you have a Cell Phone?” Of course it was 2001 and no one did, “I want to make sure I call my BOYFRIEND at 12:00.” There was almost a riot. BOYFRIEND?! What Boyfriend? Paul, knowing my luck with women, just cackled in the back.

It had snowed that Christmas and the roads were a bit treacherous, but we made it safely to Bryan’s place and he took the back as well. Bryan was really proud of me for having a date, being as I was constantly conspiring to ask out girls but never really doing it. We changed to some Manowar (Louder Than Hell) Paul wasn’t into it, nor was Candace but Bry and I were vikings on a mission to storm Castle Rivera so I didn’t care!

So we arrived at Alex’s place. There was drink and food and random goings on. But of course Candace wasn’t happy meeting cool new people and talking about D&D and Magic: The Gathering. Frankly with this newfound knowledge about a boyfriend I was sort of nihilistic towards her wants. I’d been used again. I was having one of those brooding moments where I wondered alone, if this would be my plight, to play the role of the eternal sap. To have women lead me around like a border collie for best of show only to come runner up. Then I snapped out of it. Christ, It was only 10:00 and we had plenty of night to go! Candace asked me when we were heading out to her friend’s party. I told her I wanted to hang out here a little longer. Then she said the magic words every guy falls prey to: I have some girlfriends I’d like you to meet. Ten minutes later we were out the door and in the car. Paul, Candace and I were on the way to wherever the hell this place was.

After and hour and forty five minutes of driving around the black horse pike we were lost. And lost in 2001 was much different than lost now. There was no calling your contact at the party to tell you where you were, no calling anyone to tell you where you were, and a gas station was the closest thing to a gps. I needed gas anyway. 12:00 came and went. I spent the dawn of a new millennium inside my beat-up 87 Camero with my Best friend and some other dude’s girlfriend. But everything was ok because 1) Somehow we figured out where the party was and were heading there and 2) Sir Mix-a-Lot’s I like Big Butts was playing on the radio! Well kickass I hadn’t heard that tune in something like ten years ……. Then she turned the station! I FLIPPED RIGHT OUT, “LISTEN DO NOT TOUCH THE RADIO, YOU SEEM TO THINK I’M COOL WITH BEING FUCKED WITH RIGHT NOW BUT YOU ARE WRONG I WILL DROP YOU IN THE WOODS AND GO TO THIS PARTY WITH PAUL AND YOU CAN WALK THE REST OF THE WAY.” (my anaconda don’t want none unless you got big buns) Everything was right in the world. Paul was clapping in the back seat. I was feeling a little more confident and of course Candace was apologizing for pissing me off.

We arrived at the party, it looked like nothing was happening. We rang the doorbell and then someone came to the door opened the door and music pushed out with it! SOUND PROOF DOORS! These people were loaded. I introduced my self and Paul around, Candace ran off with her friends after introducing me to some loser, name of Moose. Moose couldn’t have been any less well named. He was 5 foot nothing and a bit rotund for a lineman on his school’s football team. So Paul and I walked around mingled and such we put our coats (I was wearing a tan trench Paul’s Mom had procured for me from her job) into a bed room and just bullshitted. There was a rivalry of some kind at the party I forget if it was a highschool football or NFL thing, but as with all things that include drinking yelling and outdoor saunas a fight ensued.

Now for me to say it was a fight would not do justice to what really happened that night. It was like Finnegan’s wake! Everyroom of the house was erupting. In the living room I actually saw a guy get laid out with an uppercut and land onto a wicker/glass coffee table utterly destroying it. I was sober and the only thing I taught was that in a few seconds someone’s gonna get the good sense to call the cops. I collected Paul, and we almost left without Candace. But I decided that I should at least make sure she was ok, plus our coats were upstairs. As we made our way upstairs the Parent (mom) of the girl who was running the party and the mom were having a a freak out on the steps. Hair pulling, biting, you name it. As I tried to get past they told me I couldn’t go upstairs and to get the fuck out of their house. Lucky for me I was sober and clean cut enough to tell them I had come with Candace I was just grabbing her and my coat and I was getting out. Plus I told them to watch the door as there was wholesale looting going on below. Paul was right behind me. As I grabbed our coats I screamed out for Candace, whom I hadn’t seen since the party began. I knocked on the bathroom door and Moose answered. Then I heard Candace say no! Moose told me to “Go away, dude!” I asked Candace if she wanted me to come in. Yes. Moose wouldn’t unlock the door. With all the destruction going on below they wouldn’t miss a bathroom door. I kicked it in and there was Moose with his pants at his ankles, thankfully his boxers where up. “Dude that’s my sister, you are dead!” I shouted Moose fell into the bathtub, freaking out, “I’m Sorry, I didn’t know.” I scooped up Candace we got back to the car. As the cops pulled up, Paul sticks have his body out of the window to yell, “GOOD FIGHT, GOOD NIGHT.” I haul ass out of Dodge in my car.

On the drive home Candace, needed to puke. We pulled over and she leaned out the side of the car. After a few mins I realized she had fallen asleep. This repeated several times. Until Paul finally decided she was going in the back seat. When he put her in the back seat she made out with Paul, who was way drunk so I didn’t feel the need to point out that moments before he hated her or that she had just puked like nine times. We made it back to Alex’s Party around 5am to pick up Bryan. He had already gotten a ride home. Now the concern was what to do with this drunk 19 year old girl in my back seat. We drove to Paul’s and then I made him take her. That was his punishment for hooking up with my date, no matter how much I wanted nothing to do with her. I would have loved to see the look on his mom’s face when she woke up that morning.

Four hours later I made my way to the mall and watched the animated Lord of the Rings movie as I always had on New Years Day. Bryan came in at 12pm. Asked me about my night, I told him this story and he let me go home early and sleep. Now that’s how you ring in a millennium!

Written by rockertycoon

October 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Through Sound and Time: 2000

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I have to start this article by telling you how utterly disappointed I was when y2k didn’t work. I was pretty sure I had made up the whole thing. From the whole Binary 00 thing meaning off and turning off all the computers to the spreading of the rumors of nuclear Armageddon setting us right back into the stone age. I was more than ready for this. I had a stockpile of water and canned goods (Sickels had a special on Campbell’s Chicken N’ Stars that week, I was losing money not stocking up for the apocalypse) and I even had a melee weapon. Everyone knows that once the nuclear weapons blow us back to the stone age, the only thing a man can trust in is his sword, and his V6 87 Camero. As I stated though New Years 00 came and went without a hitch, and I drove home utterly disappointed that I had wasted it camped out in front of the Shop Rite waiting to loot the place when everything went to shit, I couldn’t help but think while listening to Battle Hymns by Suicide Machines, the world just wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped.

2000 was a great year for buying compilations. Cinema Beer Nuts, Fat Music, Short Music, Punk-O-Rama 3-6. My Fav though was Life in the Fat Lane. Songs like San Dimas High School Football Rules by The Ataris, Exhumation of Virginia Madison by Strung Out, May 16 by Lagwagon, and my favorite from this comp Hersey Hypocrisy and Revenge by Good Riddance. That Intro still gets my blood flowing to this day. It was everything I felt then, I was upset and I was sick of letting the world get to me and I wanted to take control back. The great thing about comps was that they were a great way to find out about new music without turning on the radio. You could buy a comp for like $5 and it had 15 or so songs from a label and then you could just buy that bands album or with the rise of Napster you could DL it for nothing. We truly were a society in it’s decline then.

I had also started listening to emo music. Sure go ahead and laugh now, but you used to rock out to Saves the Day and Osker too. Man I used to rock out to this stuff in my car. The Through Being Cool album was on rotation in my car for like 2 years. My friends and i used to just drive around rocking this stuff and trying to pick up girls if you can believe that. I’ll tell you what though, it wasn’t like American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused. Mostly because those movies yielded results in those scenes. We drove around in my 87 Camero with a moon roof, and barely made eye contact with girls. I spent a lot of time in the Barnes and Noble by the Deptford Mall and at the Pool Halls. It was hard to get into a night life without drinking or even being of age to drink. Most nights ended at the Colonial Diner, with two eggs over easy wheat toast and hash browns well done.

I was reading a lot of trades then. Human target, Animal man, and the Authority. Adrian Tomine’s 31 Stories got me to thinking I could probably write comics the way he did. I even teamed up with a friend to start making a few. that never panned out. I started really reading novels on my own. Neil Gaiman had always been one of my favorite comic writers so I checked out American Gods. Friends had told me that this was one of the best novels they’d ever read. To this day it’s one of the best I have. I’ve read it about 4 or 5 times. It makes me want to travel the country every time I read it. I also picked up Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and breezed through that. And I read one of the classics that year: The Stranger by Camus. I’m really surprised that you don’t see more lone gun men reading Camus over Salinger. Oh well, it’ll remain one of those mysteries of the universe.

The big explosion this year was in June. My whole world got shook to it’s foundation. I was a liar. Ok thats a little hard on myself, but I was definitely covering for someone. Long story short, I was headed to Worlds for Magic: The Gathering. My mentor at the time was 3rd in the world and I was fast climbing at 80th in the state. He was invited to Worlds and as a teammate I was invited to come with him. We’d been practicing for a bulk of the year. I had even impressed a few of the local pros. I know this seems trite, a bunch of guys playing Card Games to be the best guy in the world that plays a card game, but this was for 3 million dollars. And to give you a frame of reference one of these pros recently placed in the money at the world series of poker, so you can see these games were preparation for something a little more grand. Anyhow the DCI found my friend guilty of tournament collusion. Basically he cheated a lot and because I ran the tournament I was guilty by association and maybe a little more. Needless to say my dream was shattered. I had to work very hard to make sure I didn’t get fired from my job as well as to keep from getting fined. Thankfully it all blew over and I over got banned for five years. Realizing that 5 years was far too long to keep playing the game competitively I started working on a new future. At the end of the year my father gave me an ultimatum, move out, pay rent, or go to school. I choose school and then met a girl at the mall right before new years……

Written by rockertycoon

October 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Through Sound and Time: 1999

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My last year of high school was spent trying to figure out how best to spend my time. I still didn’t have a car. I fancied myself a bit like Ferris Bueller in that sense. I even took the occasional “mental health” day off school to catch up on sleep and catch up on reading. I was starting to get into main stream comics by then. I was reading JLA: Year One and Deadeanders. Deadenders was actually one of the first DC Vertigo comics that I really read on a regular basis. It was about a post apocalypse future where the world was hit by a cataclysm that ended the weather and separated the world as they new it into 7 or so sections extending from the center section. It was sort of like Dante’s inferno in that sense, which I didn’t read until my mid twenties.

That year musically was riddled with Dropkick Murphys, Bouncing Souls, and Soul Coughing’s El Oso album. I was delving back in time a bit as well. That year I purchased the Clash’s London Calling, Combat Rock, and their Self Titled Albums. I bought my first bass that year as well. Punk-O-Rama Four came out that year, as well as Warped Tour. I went to my first live concert (folk fests that my father had dragged me out to not counting). The first band I saw live was the Living End. I jumped into my first mosh pit for Dropkick Murphys and my first circle pit was Pennywise, they played a cover of Minor Threat by Minor Threat. I learned a few things that day about concerts. It was also the last day I wore Khakis when I didn’t have to work. My attire was all wrong for an all day concert, Hawaiian Shirt, Khakis (with no belt), and a pair of Soaps freestyle walking shoes. I had no where to put anything I bought and I lost my keys during Anti-flag. I spent most of the concert crowd surfing.

After that I started going to concerts like mad. with my friends John Carr and Ian Harker. I saw Goldfinger, Bloodhound Gang, Bouncing Souls, Blood for Blood, Nofx, H2O, Vision, the Dwarves, and a ton of other bands. I started to get pretty comfortable in the mosh pit. i had always thought that going into a pit meant fighting to keep from getting your ass kicked by all the muscle heads, but it turned out to be a place for of guys just like me looking to have a good time and dance and sing, maybe get out a little aggression. The major focus was comradeship, if someone fell you picked him up, protct the guy tying his shoes, and disregard the assholes til they needed to be removed. Most importantly though it was all about fun.

It’s hard to explain to people who’ve never been in there. I was young and I was trying to figure out who I was in the world, there was a lot of mystery about what the future would bring and I was a little unsettled by the government at the time, I was trying to figure out what was right and what was fair. I knew I’d never hack it in a 9-5 but it seemed like that was the only way to make a living without being a deadbeat. Top this all off with the fact that I was straight-edge. I didn’t know how to talk to girls let alone where to meet them. The one solace was that I had a place to go once the music started playing.

By mid year I had graduated highschool, and I had decided that I was gonna be a professional CCG player for a while before I went to college. That’s right, I started playing Magic: the Gathering for money. I even got through a few rounds at states and things were looking pretty bright on that level. The next year was a swift slap in the face.

Written by rockertycoon

September 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Through Sound and Time pt 2: 1995

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Skipping forward a bit. 3 years to be exact. Christmas I received a few albums. But the top two by far were 1. Presidents of the United States of America Eponym album (I rocked that Album so much it stopped working. A few years ago and I had to buy it on Itunes. My teenage years certainly had a soundtrack!) and 2. The Empire Records Soundtrack. I remember thinking I sure wish I could work some place like that. Where all these characters hung out and waxed intellectual about music and stuff like that, and then caught shoplifters and stuff like that (I’d later get my wish.) This was about the same thing I started playing Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. The Rocker Tycoon wasn’t just a music geek, I had my hand in many pots, stirring things up.

Empire Records had a ton of great music:

1. Til I Hear It from You – Gin Blossoms
2. Liar – The Cranberries
3. Girl Like You – Edwyn Collins
4. Free – The Martinis
5. Crazy Life – Toad the Wet Sprocket
6. Bright as Yellow – The Innocence Mission
7. Circle of Friends – Better Than Ezra
8. I Don’t Want to Live Today – Ape Hangers
9. Whole Lotta Trouble – Cracker
10. Ready, Steady, Go – Meices
11. What You Are – Drill
12. Nice Overalls – Lustre
13. Here It Comes Again – Please, Please
14. Ballad of El Goodo – Evan Dando
15. Sugarhigh – Coyote Shivers

Not all of it I’d claim to be a huge fan of now. But I can listen to that album still front to back today and remember what it was like to be fifteen and it makes me smile. Songs like Ready, Steady, Go a Billy Idol cover by the Meices and I Don’t Wanna Live Today by the Ape Hangers were the beginnings or my punk rock influence.

So what was I reading then? I had picked up Homeland by RA Salvatore. The Legend of Drizzt. Say what you will about the classics, but to me this will always be the book that made reading a pastime for me. I was whisked away to Faerun’s Underdark into the City of the drow. The main character was an outcast in a city of a treacherous malicious race of evil elves. This was a standard fantasy novel. Swordplay Magic Political intrigue. This was the first time I really got to understand allegory and how it could be used to open a mind to the world around it. I start paying more attention to the ways of people.

I’d say this book and it’s two sequels are responsible for my acute judge of character and for a fair amount of my attention to detail. Salvatore’s battle sequences proved to me that you could imagine a scene far better than any movie could convey it. I hold that truth today whenever I write. I still have an overactive imagination to this day, and anytime I’m alone in the dark I like to imagine I’m stalking the halls of Menzoberranzan, sword in hand, out to defy the Spider Queen herself……. Whoa! Sorry, there I go again.

Written by rockertycoon

August 26, 2009 at 9:57 pm